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Q and A Banner - #3 (World Records-1)

Friday, February 1, 2013


Because an American marketing firm with an equally catchy name:  LEXICON Branding, Inc. - said so!

You'd think they'd ask the general public or came up with the name themselves, (actually they tried to do the latter as you'll read further below), but noooo!  Formerly RIM, (Research in Motion) now called BlackBerry Limited, instead, paid money to the well-known marketing firm - Lexicon Branding, Inc. - a firm whose sole purpose is to invent names for products (gosh I wish I had that job), to do just that!

BlackBerry Limited, (or RIM as I like to remember them being Canadian and all), is a telecommunication and wireless equipment company headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and is best known, as you all know by now, as the developer of the BlackBerry smartphone and tablet.

So as the story goes and to make a long story short:
It was the summer of 1998, when a bunch of executives from a tiny technology company then known as RIM arrived in California, USA at the offices of Lexicon Branding Inc.  They brought with them, of course, a prototype of the little gadget they had just invented, some sort of email/pager device that could send and receive e-mail wirelessly, and now wanted a name to go along with it!  They originally tried themselves to come up with a name, (they had names such as the RIM 950, RIM 960, RIM 970 . . . and so on) and eventually settled on the name “PocketLink,” but the public still wasn't 'biting' it.  Actually, according to author Alastair Sweeny of the book BlackBerry Planet - The Story of Research in Motion and the Little Device That Took the World by Storm, RIM was frustrated that customers still used it as a pager and didn’t take advantage of its emailing strengths and realized the name was possibly the problem and that's when they decide to turn to the 'professionals'.

So why not Blueberry instead of Blackberry?
Original Blackberry
Wiki source

Well, I'll let the professionals explain it themselves.  From the words of David Placek, founder of Lexicon Branding:

“We wanted to give them a great name, which could really help them. At that time, they were going up against the pagers, and everybody had a pager . . . . You need to have a really distinctive name. And let the operating companies, like AT&T, let them have the more conservative and descriptive names. But I had a sense that this was going to be a really good product.”

“We looked at the form,” says Placek, “and, with all the little buttons on there, began to create metaphors. We looked at the world of fruit because it does, from a distance, look like it could be some kind of fruit. Also, BlackBerry is a very friendly, approachable name.

Some of the Lexicon team were struck by the little keyboard buttons, which resembled nothing so much as the tiny seeds covering a strawberry. Several suggest “Strawberry.” “No, ‘strawberry is a slowww syllable,” said Stanford university professor Will Leben, director of linguistics at Lexicon. “That’s just the opposite of the zippy connotation Research in Motion wants. But ‘-berry’ is good.”

“Lexicon research had shown that people associated the b sound with reliability,” said David Placek, “while the short e evoked speed. Another syllable with a short vowel would nail it. “Within seconds the Lexicon team had picked its fruit, and it was BlackBerry.”

So why BLACKberry instead of BLUEberry? After all, those keyboard buttons looked more like little blueberries to me! Well, it's simply because the device, at the time, was black, so says Mr. Placek.

It was pretty cool too how "Mike" Lazaridis, the Greek Canadian businessman, and founder and Vice Chairman of BlackBerry remembered the occasion well:

Mike Lazaridis
Wiki source

The Lexicon team came in with “boxes of white cardboard sheets, forty of them, each one had a single word. They set them up on an easel.” As Lazaridis remembers, “after about twenty-five of them I thought, Gosh, I’ve made a big mistake . . . they put up name after name . . . there were some strange ones . . .you might have heard of the HipTop.”

“At that point,” he says, “I knew I was being set up because the last one was so much better than all the others . . . What I decided to do was have some fun with them. I leaned back in my chair, crossed my arms, and told them, ‘I don’t like any of them! — You should have seen the look on their faces.” And then he paused for effect . . . “except the last one.’ And we all burst out laughing.”

Back home, the RIM engineers weren’t sure they like their baby being named after a fruit. Gary Mousseau was “just floored” by the choice of the California marketing pros. “But we didn’t have the branding, marketing and sales experience of these guys. We just couldn’t appreciate their skill set.”

Mike liked it. The name stuck.

And as they say, the rest is history!

Did You Know?

  • While RIM got incredible word-of-mouth advertising when the U.S. Congress invested millions in its device after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the company has also promoted the device through special events, like giving BlackBerries to people attending last year's Academy Awards.
  • In March 2012, it was announced that RIM was awarded a patent for placing fuel cells behind mobile phone keyboards. Through the system, for which RIM had applied for a patent in 2009, a mobile phone would be able to recharge itself.
  • On January 30, 2013, During the official launch event for BlackBerry 10, the company also announced that it would immediately change its name from Research In Motion to BlackBerry. The name change was made to "put the BlackBerry brand at the centre" of the company's diverse brands, and because customers in some markets "already know the company as BlackBerry". A legal name change must still be approved by shareholders at the company's next annual general meeting.

Lexicon Branding is famous for other brand names such as:

  • When Toyota was considering the launch of a new automotive division tailored to younger Generation Y drivers, they partnered with us to develop the Scion® brand.
  • When processor companies were marketing chips by numbers, we worked with Intel to help them understand how branding could affect their business and then created the Pentium® brand for them.
  • When sales were declining for Subaru's station wagons, we showed Subaru that launching another American West-themed car would not give them a competitive advantage. We then created the Outback® brand for them.
  • When Procter & Gamble reinvented the mop, we invented the Swiffer® brand, helping them to create a new category. When they revolutionized the fabric freshener business, we created the Febreze® brand so that they could tell their story.
  • When Verizon developed a state-of-the-art fiber optic network to market to consumers they partnered with Lexicon to create Fios®, an approachable name that also supports idea of a new level of performance.
  • When the Coca-Cola Company decided to enter the bottled water business we coined a new word, Dasani®, to deliver a unique personality and positioning. The Dasani brand is now the fourth largest bottled water in the United States. 
  • When Apple developed a computer that was truly portable in size and weight, Lexicon named it the PowerBook®, a simple and elegant name. 

And these are just the more famous ones!

So there you have it.  I guess if you want something done right - you have to do it yourself, go to the professionals!!

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